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Training call to see signs of alcohol abuse; HEALTH.

THE UK's largest health union called yesterday for specific training for nurses and other health workers to spot the signs of harmful drinking levels.

Unison said research suggests drink is implicated in 33,000 deaths a year, a 33pc rise since 1984, and that one in six patients attending accident units have alcohol-related injuries.

Bob Abberley, Unison Assistant General Secretary, said, "All disciplines across health and social care should be aware and be able to provide advice and information to someone who is a harmful drinker.

"Nurses in particular are well placed to identify those at risk and to offer advice, and yet there is very little in the way of specific training to help them do that job effectively.

That lack of training is costing lives and the NHS money.

"Unison believes that better training for health professionals would lead to a significant reduction in the death toll and result in considerable savings to the NHS. "It is a common misconception that treating chronic long-term alcohol use is the most significant cost to the NHS, but that's just not the case.

"Most expense comes from the hidden or unexplored harmful use which results in physical, social or psychological consequences - such as accidents at home or in the workplace, and from drink-driving-related accidents, or from violence."

The call came on the day the Nursing Council on Alcohol and Unison launched their 2002 Essay Prize Competition in London.

The competition is open to all nurses, midwives and health visitors throughout the UK and is aimed at highlighting the unique position of health professionals in detecting the early warning signs of alcohol abuse.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 5, 2002
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